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Trump calls for recusal of judge in federal election case

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Lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump on Monday asked the federal judge overseeing his looming trial for trying to overturn the 2020 election to recuse herself, saying she showed bias against Mr. Trump in public statements made from the dock. other cases.

The recusal motion was a risky gamble on the part of Mr. Trump’s legal team given that the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, will have the first say on whether to grant it or not. Mr. Trump’s lawyers have tried this strategy before, trying — and failing — to get the judge overseeing his state crime trial in Manhattan to resign.

In a motion filed in federal court in Washington, John F. Lauro, Mr. Trump’s lawyer, cited statements Judge Chutkan made about the former president during hearings for two defendants who were to be sentenced for the crimes they committed at the Capitol in January. 6, 2021.

At one of the hearings in October 2022, Judge Chutkan told the defendant, Christine Priola, a former occupational therapist in the Cleveland school system, that the people who “invaded” the Capitol on January 6 demonstrated a “blind loyalty to a person who, moreover, remains gratuitous to this day.

At the other hearing, in December 2021, Judge Chutkan told Robert Palmer, a Florida man who threw a fire extinguisher at police officers that day, that “the people who urged, encouraged and rallied you to go and act and act.” the fight was not charged.

Mr. Lauro argued that statements made before Mr. Trump was indicted in the election interference case, undermined confidence in Judge Chutkan’s ability to “administer justice in a neutral and impartial manner” and were ” intrinsically disqualifying.

“Even if Judge Chutkan truly intends to give President Trump a fair trial and may believe she can do so,” he wrote, “her public statements inevitably taint that proceeding, regardless of or the outcome. »

Judge Chutkan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, entered Mr. Trump’s election interference case with an already established reputation for imposing harsh sentences on some of the defendants in the Capitol riots that took place. are found in front of her.

On several occasions, it has imposed sanctions higher than those requested by the government, often punctuating its decisions with the slogan “There must be consequences”.

But she is far from the only federal judge in Washington to have suggested that Mr. Trump might be guilty in punishing one of his supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

In June, before sentencing a California man, Daniel Rodriguez, to more than 12 years in prison for using a Taser against Washington, D.C. police officer Michael Fanone, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Mr. Rodriguez had been radicalized by what she called Mr. Trump’s “irresponsible and knowingly false claims that the election was stolen.”

And in November 2021, Judge Amit P. Mehta told John Lolos, who entered the Capitol through a broken window, that he had been fed “lies” about the election by people who had never been held responsible.

“In a sense, Mr. Lolos, I think you are a pawn,” Judge Mehta said. “You are a pawn in a game played by people who should have known better.”

Peter Carr, a spokesman for special prosecutor Jack Smith, who is overseeing the election interference case, declined to comment on the recusal motion.

Glenn Thrush reports contributed.

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